Warming to Pink

Lately it seems all I do here is talk about the weather.  But it's crazy!  We had delays and closures through Monday and then yesterday it was so warm when I left work that I threw caution to the wind and ran outside.  Take it from me, seventy degrees is no reason to go running on trails when the sun is almost down.  Especially when you forget your glasses.  Though I will say, I think that was the best outdoor pace I have maintained in a long time.

With our crazy weather I have decided that it is time to move on to warmer knits.  I am still working on the Lightning Shrug, but my startitis kicked in again on Monday when I received this little lovely in the mail.

Duckie by Unwind Yarn Company.  This was the colorway Dana dyed for her first round of the 2 Crafty Girls club.  I did not get in, but at the beginning of the month she put up a few skeins for preorder and I pounced.  How could I not buy Duckie yarn?  I suddenly had to knit a Pretty in Pink shawl.

I seem to be on a Knitscene kick because I dug out my winter 2012 issue and selected the Merging Ripples Shawl.  I love the way the pattern uses short rows to achieve a deep striping shawl.  The only problem is that it is knit from the bottom up, so the cast on was gigantic.  It took me all of this week's episode of The Carrie Diaries to get it cast on (I don't know why I watch this show.  I keep vowing not to watch another episode, but the clothes and music and guest stars keep pulling me back in).

Bloomie's Bear volunteered to model just how long it is.  My size US4 interchangable tip broke, so I pulled out a US 5.  I tend to knit tightly and I have more yardage than the pattern calls for, so I think it will be fine.

I am reminded why people love striping shawls so much.  I love the way the colors are working up and the short rows are so addictive.  I'm imagining wearing this with a spring dress and I suddenly find myself reveling in the potentially warmer weather -- a thought I still find shocking.

To see more splendid WIPs, check out Tami's Amis!


Too Cold For Frogs

Never have I been so glad to be a knitter than I was on Friday, trudging to work in coat, boots, and handknit sweater, hat, cowl, socks, legwarmers, and mitts.  It was cold.  We ended up closing down early so everyone could get home ahead of an ice storm that had my car covered in a layer thick enough that I drove the half hour home with little peepholes and the hopes of slow, kind drivers.  Is this what it is like to live in real winter?  I think I could adapt, but it would not be one of the most fun things ever.

It has all melted now, and we are expecting to be back in the seventies by mid-week, but I have spent my rare weekend off hunkered down with wool and needles, hiding under those blankets I promised to Cogsworth.  Today I finished a major project (details once I get serviceable photos) and found myself casting about in all those projects I said I was no longer knitting, looking for something to do while I watched way too many episodes of The West Wing.

Lots of frogging.  Lots.  So far a shawl, a sweater, and two pairs of socks.  Remember what I said about the joy of letting go of things holding you back?  I had no idea that joy would include quite so many needles and project bags.  I need to hide all of this from Chris before he comes home or I will never again be able to complain that I have no yarn/bags/needles and thus need to take an Etsy shopping trip.


FO: LARPing with H

I am so tired of taking FO pictures in the dark!  I am sorry these photos have not been doing anything justice lately.  It's just been so cold that on my days off I hibernate rather than going outside and taking proper pictures.

These are Hermoine's Everyday Socks knit out of the Codex colorway from Gnome Acres.  Don't you just love the way the yarn almost striped?

These are the socks that introduced me to the garter stitch eye of partridge heel and I am pretty sure this will be my new standard.  I used to knit short row heels, which fit my foot well but wear fast in my work shoes.  So I started doing heel flaps but could not find one I really liked.  This one is perfect.  I love the way the garter stitch flows into the foot.  And the color popping of the eye of partridge is always fun.

I'll admit, I have not yet watched the Supernatural episode that gave these socks their name.  I have not been watching any this season.  The first three episodes annoyed me too much.  I find I enjoy these later seasons much better in marathon.

Cogsworth and I will get on that.  Right after we knit some more blankets and an igloo.  It's that cold.  I swear!

In the meantime, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Life's Too Short For Bad Knits

Today, instead of talking about what I am knitting, let's talk about what I am not knitting.  I am not knitting these socks, that have been sitting waiting for attention for almost a year.

I am also not knitting the green and pink Dancette.

And I am most definitely not knitting on Abalone.  In fact, all of these projects were moved from WIP status to shameful hibernation within the past year.  And now they are continuing their journey to the frog pond.  In my brain I have already turned the socks into My Hope and one of the yarns from Dancette is on its way to become a different two color shawl.

If there is one lesson I learned in 2012 it was not to be afraid to let go.  Of my pride, of my inhibitions, and of worthless baggage.  Fortunately when I let go of uninspiring projects they can be repurposed into something beautiful.

And Abalone?

Last night I cast on for the Lightning Shrug from the latest Knitscene.  I just bought a sleeveless green dress for which I think this will be just matchy-matchy enough.

For more WIP madness, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.


Weather Reflective Mojo

I don't know about where you live, but here in North Carolina the weather is getting particularly wacky.  On Thursday night it snowed.  Actually, there was this horrible incident in which my car window, the one in the driver door, seemed to come off whatever tracks it utilizes to get stuck down in the door.  In a rain storm that turned to snow.  I'm sure the sight of me standing in the parking lot yelling as I tried to get it back in place is one for which my neighbors will never forgive me.  And now today it is so warm that as I was running in my tshirt and shorts I found myself thinking about that bathing suit I bought last year but never wore.

As I am sure you can imagine this is doing a number on my knitting mojo.  I am torn between wanting to cast on snuggly alpaca shawls and lace weight cardigans.  I have a pile of yarn I keep pulling out to wind and then changing my mind.  As a result I have not succeeded in knitting anything new but am rather finishing up some sparkly WIPs.

So far I have finished two and I am hopeful that I will finish my Bombshell shorts next as they are all I have on the needles.  I think I can see the end in sight, which usually means I am about two thirds of the way done.  The goal is to finish them in time to wear over tights as that is the only way I can envision styling them.  I just may be pairing that a tank top.


FO: Twisted Vines Hat

Before you laugh at me, yes, I have another tall slouchy hat to show you.  If ever there is evidence that knitting can influence your tastes it is me, who did not even like knit hats beyond what was necessary for our occasional snow.  And I never wore anything slouchy.  Ever.  But clearly, that has all changed.

This is the Twisted Vines Hat by Melissa LaBarre.  In November she ran a pattern sale on all patterns she published that month, and so I snatched this pattern right up.  I cast on almost immediately because it was perfect for my Dragonfly Fibers September club yarn, Traveller, a sportweight yarn, in the colorway Tropicana.  You may remember that I like to call this the happiest yarn in the world because, well, it is.  Have you seen that color?  It is impossible to photograph inside and, well, I'm never outside in daylight this time of year.

Typically I do not wear things in this shade.  I am known to wear some wild colors, but in general even I know better than to mix red and orange.  Let alone with pink!  But this yarn knit up so wonderfully in the stitch pattern and it was a lot of fun to watch where the pops of color would fall.

I realized last night as I prepared to write this post that I as much as I have been wearing this hat, I did not have any photos of it.  And as I set up my chair in a closet for best nighttime lighting I remembered, dear readers, how many of you were dissatisfied the last time I wrote about a hat without modeling it for you.

So here you go.  Post-zumba, settled on the couch for Vampire Diaries and trying to decide how the snow falling outside would effect my work prospects today.  Don't say I never did anything for you.

For more FO fun, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.


Geektastic Thursday: Scoundrels

There is this part of my life that every once in a while looms into the foreground and demands to be noticed.  It becomes a bit overwhelming and imposing for those who are not immersed and generally everyone comes to the conclusion that it is just much too much.  I am referring, of course, to my obsession with Star Wars.  I started this obsession at a very young age, when some friends and I would play Lucasfilm in the back yard (we alternated with Indiana Jones and ocassionally Willow when we were feeling quite daring).  When I was 13 another friend and I wrote a script for Episode VII based on Heir to the Empire one summer swim season.  I saved my baby sitting money for the VHS set and over Christmas break in ninth grade I bought my first Expanded Universe novel -- The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin.  After that there was no going back.  I spent all of high school completely obsessed, reading everything I could get my hands on, fantasizing of a life spent in an X-Wing squadron or as an intergalactic bounty hunter (Boba Fett totally survived, you know).

My Star Wars Shelf -- two books deep

After I left for college I lost touch with my EU fanaticism.  Yes, I would reread the Han Solo trilogy about once a year and I toted my collection around with me, never giving up one battered paperback.  But after trying and disliking The New Jedi Order series (not that it isn't good, I just have a problem with going so far into the future that certain things inevitably happen) I decided that I had read probably all I was going to like, at least for a while.  With the exception of Death Star, I did not see much expansion without regressing or progressing so much that I lost touch with my favorites, Han, Lando, and Boba Fett.  But this year Timothy Zahn changed all of that.

I am not going to do an in-depth review.  If you want details or have read and feel like flailing with me, please let me know -- I've sadly discovered that I am not the only one who lost touch with the EU when faced with the demands of life outside high school.  But I fully believe that without Timothy Zahn, there would be no EU.  His Heir to the Empire trilogy maintained the integrity of story telling while introducing characters such as Mara Jade and Winter.  He laid the ground work for authentic yet respectful new perspectives on a universe over which so many of us feel a particular ownership and protectiveness.  And his latest novel takes us right back into it.

Star Wars: Scoundrels is a Han and Chewie adventure following the events of Episode IV.  It looks at the fringe part of the universe that I have always loved.  The scoundrels -- the smugglers, con men, ghost burglers.  Those who are not fully invested in the Empire or the Rebellion.  In this story Han and Chewie find themselves accepting a job in the hopes of succeeding in their persistent goal, paying off Jabba.    The story follows a high stakes heist, and brings in characters you may not have guessed.  What I found so great was the fact that he fully respected all of the EU material that came before this novel.  He accounts for Ylesia, for the direction of certain characters, and even makes a few jokes concerning fan controversies.  But even if you have no knowledge of anything outside the films, it is still an engaging stand-alone novel (you should also check out Winner Lose All, the ebook short story written as a prequel).

I took a lot longer to read it than I normally would because I wanted to savor the experience of a Timothy Zahn Han Solo novel.  In my mind, it cannot get much better and is one of those story concepts that we will probably not get again.  There are only so many stories they can tell about the time period of the original films.  And it was everything I had hoped it would be.  I was transported back to the enthusiasm and wonder of reading a Star Wars story for the first time.  Everything I had loved about the really good books was reborn in this one (and trust me when I say I have read some real duds).  I have now decided I must go back and reread all my favorites, starting with Crispin's trilogy and then moving into other character-driven stories.

But do not let me overhype it for you.  I actually did not know how enthusiastic I would be about the story until I reached a point that for me personally was a paradigm shifting revelation.  It might not be for everyone, I think it has a lot to do with your personal journey through the EU.  Zahn does comes with a certain level of expectation attached, and I think he deserves the acclaim.  I have avoided reading reviews because I am so out of touch with the current direction of the EU, but even if I am the only one to think so, this story was worth it.  If you are new to the EU or a younger reader, I highly recommend this novel.  It could serve as a wonderful introduction to a world you will never want to leave, in a galaxy far far away.


Not the Happiest of Socks

These socks have a bit of a sad tale.  On Friday my father, sister, and I drove up to Pennsylvania for the funeral of a dear man.  Robert, known to this part of the family as Uncle Bob, was a dear man who was like a grandfather to us.  He was a missionary in The Philippines until his two year old daughter contracted Polio, and then he took care of her, succumbing the disease himself.  He was a writer, a World War Two vet, and a brilliant pianist.  In a word, he was amazing, and served as a wonderful positive influence on the world.  When Uncle Bob's wife Margie died two years ago we made this same journey and I cast on a pair of socks.  Since I have recently found myself with a free pair of needles I decided to start another pair.  It may sound a little strange, but for me it was a calming and meditative way to survive the nine hour journey.

This (Lateral) is the third pattern I have knit from Cookie A's Shape + Form.  I just cannot seem to get enough of her patterns.  Unlike her more well known sock patterns, Lateral is fairly straight forward and easy to memorize, but it is that simplicity that makes it so appealing at a time like this.  The yarn is Tempted Fiber Arts in the colorway Oasis.  I am loving the way the variegation is taking to the pattern.

I am changing the heel, subbing out the more traditional heel for a garter eye of partridge.  I recently learned this from the Hermoine's Everyday Sock pattern and I think this may be my new favorite.  I like the way the eye of partridge wears with my shoes and the garter stitch flows into the rest of the sock in a way that seems like magic.

I am hopeful that this will turn out well.  I know some may find it distasteful to be knitting a pair of socks in memory of my uncle, but it gives me a constructive way to go through this mourning period.  Like when I knit a different hat every time my father was in the hospital.  It channels the nervous energy and when I come out the other side I will be able to remember the honor guard who brought us all to tears in a bit more tangible manner.

For more uplifting WIPs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.


FO: Petoncle

Last month I got the opportunity to do one of those things some knitters daydream about, but not all of us get to actually try -- I got to test knit.  I wore it to work the day after I finished and somehow telling my coworker that it was  a test knit for my favorite hat designer did not have quite the impact I would have thought.  But you guys understand, right?

The latest design from Alexandra Tinsley, Petoncle, is everything I have come to expect from Alex.  Straightforward and clear layout, with a pattern that is deceptively simple.  The pattern itself uses more colors than I did, but what I immediately loved about this pattern was its potential to use worsted leftovers.  For my version I used three colors.  The grey is Dragonfly Fibers Selkie, leftover from Shipwreck Cove; the white is Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool; and the purple is the end of my Yarn Love Anne Shirley that I used for a hat last year.

I volunteered to knit the size large because I know that I have a larger circumference head, but I probably could have done with the small no problem.  The reality of a size large that I did not consider is the fact that it is longer than the beanie style, which actually makes it even more fun.  Actually, I must admit that I have taken to sleeping in this hat.  It is just so comfortable!  And it is sometimes cold here but I refuse to turn up the heat.

Alright.  So there you have it.  A wonderfully customizable hat from the lovely Ms Tinsley.  If  you have never tried color work before, this may be the pattern for you.

In the meantime, check out the other wonderful finished objects over at Tami's Amis.


Geektastic Thursday: Bag Lady

I'm not a purse girl.  When I was in high school I did not carry one, and in college I tried to confine myself to the smallest bag possible.  But then I finished school, started knitting with a vengeance, and found myself without an excuse to carry a backpack.  Yet I never really moved past the purses of my school days.  Small zipper bags and over-stuffed satchels have been my go-to.  I have one larger bag, but it is really nice and a fear I have been a little too rough on it.  So I went back to my little bags and juggled water bottles, books, lunch, and knitting to work.  I kept a lookout for a new purse, but I never justified the expense until Chris' grandfather sent us some Christmas money the same week that I saw this.

Last week Think Geek had a sale on Star Wars branded items.  As soon as I saw this bag from Rock Rebel I had to have it.  It is everything I had been looking for.  Simple, but graphic.  Big enough to hold what I lug around, but small enough not to take up the entire floor next to my desk.  The black and white print contrasted with the pink glitter is just girly enough to be a fashion statement, as well as a point of geek pride.

And lest you be worried I gush, too much, This is everything I carried with me to work yesterday.

I think the photos speak for themselves.  Try fitting that much in your average handbag.  I have.  It is not pretty.

Think Geek's sale has ended, but I did find that Hot Topic has a similar assortment from the same brand.  It might be a bit too much to carry more than one Star Wars handbag (says the girl with the Star Wars planner, reading a Star Wars book, wearing her Star Wars hoodie), but if they ever get the rights to another property, you can bet I will be there with my credit card in tow.


Bombshell Cables

If I say that I am knitting shorts, what do you think of?  Probably something awkward, something super crafty and not in the good way, but in kindergarten collage crossed with scary grandmother yard sale.  But what if I showed you this.

Now are you intrigued?

I keep saying that I want to knit items that are flattering and that make me feel good.  But one thing about fashion?  It comes with risk.  And I had this yarn sitting in my stash for longer than I care to admit.  So when I got the fall issue of Holla Knits I looked at this pattern, rolled my eyes, and moved on.  But I kept thinking about it.  The styling over tights is the way I like to dress in our mild winter weather, and the finished objects I started to see rolling in totally caught my eye.

So after Christmas I had a few days off alone in front of the tv and I gave in.  The cabling is completely addictive.  I knit the first leg in a day and keep finding myself knitting more than I intend because I become obsessed with knitting just a little bit longer.

I hope these turn out to be as awesome as they are in my head and do not result in a crazy cabled monstrosity I hide in the back of the closet.  We shall see.

For more works in progress, swing by the group over on Tamis Amis.


Yarn Conspiracies

Thank you everyone for all of your lovely comments on Shipwreck Cove.  Since finishing the sweater I have returned to one of my favorite more economic yarns of choice.  Laceweight.

I am knitting a pair of Ellie mitts for a friend out of this lovely Gnome Acres laceweight in the Bertie's Botts colorway.  Because this is a fingering weight pattern I am knitting this sparkly laceweight double -- which is easier said than done.

I showed these to you in December when I first cast them on, and then they kind of disappeared into the WIP pile.  This is no doing of mine, I swear.  It was yet another one of those evil yarn plots, working to make sure I no longer have any interest in knitting with laceweight.  First it was this epic yarn barf that resulted in having to actually cut one of the strands and spend an hour detangling.  And now?  This.

I know, that dropped stitch doesn't look like much.  But there is at least one full hour in this.  Granted, picking up stitches with a migraine is not the best plan in the world, but I swear that yarn is out to get me.


FO: Shipwreck Cove

What better subject for my first post of the new year than my biggest (and I do mean biggest) accomplishment of the last?  For lo, I picked up the scissors and brought the yarn to its knees.  Behold!  The finished Shipwreck Cove!

Slope by Cookie A in Dragonfly Fibers Selkie, Black Pearl

So I am feeling just a wee bit over dramatic, but I am super stoked about this sweater.  I finished it mid December and wore it twice before I finally got around to taking pictures.  If I say that this is the sweater that makes me feel stylish and sexy will you think I'm over doing it?  I did not do much in the way of styling for this picture but I love pairing this with black leggings, tall black boots, a chunky ring, and dangly earrings.  It is also fun to pair with a boldly colored beret and matching eye shadow.

The ingenuity of this sweater is what makes it so great.  Though, it is the way in which the body is knit in a single piece that results in tired wrists and a frustratingly large amount of fabric in one's lap.  But it is so worth it!  The construction also really leveled up my finishing technique.  My seaming may still need a bit of work, but it has improved so much over the last year since I decided that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and improve.

This is the sweater that suffered from the giant sleeve debacle, in which my sleeve was a good 8-10 inches too long and had to be cut and reknit back down.

Can you tell?  (If you can, please don't tell me.  My ego is too fragile and I'm just too darned proud)

If I was not already sold on Cookie A designs, this would do it.  I wrote before about trying to refocus my knitting on things that actually make me feel and look good, rather than things that are just in my budget.  This yarn is clearly not a budget yarn at $50 a skein, but I earned it in trade and waited until this pattern came along.  It used about two and a half skeins for the size 40, but that did include a swatch and the giant sleeve.

End result?  Five stars, two thumbs, a partridge and a pear tree.  Now, I just need to find more reasons to go out because I have not worn it yet this week.

For more exciting FOs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis.